Purdy school buses to try more centralized strategy

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

School leaders consider switch from door-to-door service

A new strategy for busing children to and from the Purdy schools this fall will explore using central locations for speed and reducing wear on buses.

Superintendent Stephen Chancellor reported buses pick up students throughout the district, in many cases, at their homes. However, the state will not reimburse the district for picking up any students who live within the city limits, which represents almost a third of the student body.

During summer school, the district experimented with the formula, stopping buses at central spots such as a church, First State Bank, the trailer park by Young's Insurance and the cemetery. Chancellor asked board members to consider such a strategy for the future, especially in the formulation of snow routes. About three days of classes could have been held last winter, Chancellor asserted, if the district had directed children to gather at more accessible sites. Two routes in particular could yield savings in time from the approach.

Randy Henderson, school board president, recalled a previous occasion when the district tried to quit running city bus routes, which proved very unpopular. He had no problem with choosing pick-up and drop-off points, though other board members felt the strategy would only produce minimal savings in time, fuel and wear-and-tear.

In looking at winter service, Chancellor said he wanted to discuss the matter with the Purdy Special Road District as well. He would need the road district's cooperation to make any strategy work. The southeast corner of the service area, especially around Clayton Hill, presented the biggest challenge. Board member Todd Schallert expressed greater concern over a bus sliding off a road and someone getting hurt, as opposed to a bus getting stuck in snow.

Chancellor said he would like to try seven or eight points for central bus stops. Locations would depend on where students lived, which would become clearer after Labor Day, when all students had returned. No single approach seemed overwhelmingly better. However, in an effort to try something different, Chancellor liked an idea suggested by board member Ken Terry, to pick up students at their homes as usual and drop them off at central points. If the drop-offs worked well, buses could switch to using the same spot morning and afternoon after a couple months.

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